Preseason Hurricane Preparedness


How to prepare well before a hurricane hits

Most people do not think about preparing for a hurricane until the threat is imminent. Preseason hurricane preparedness focuses on tasks that one would usually not have the time to complete once a hurricane is forecast to impact a community. These types of jobs may take days or longer to be properly prepared. Knowing how to be prepared for severe tropical weather first focuses on taking an inventory on which issues would impact your property and family. Once the inventory is taken, the items should be prioritized as to the potential negative impact it could cause if not rectified.

What to prepare for…
Before knowing how to prepare for a hurricane, one needs to know what to prepare for. A hurricane brings a number of threats: high winds, storm surge, tornadoes, and flooding. For a more in-depth understanding of each of these features, please refer to Tropicalweather.net's article on hurricane impacts. The second aspect of preseason preparedness focuses on planning. A few days before a hurricane strikes is not the time to devise an escape route or trying to decide what to if you get separated from your family.

Action Items
  • What will it take to protect your house from high winds? Many times high winds from a hurricane blow in a garage door, then the rest of the house. Is your garage door able to withstand strong winds? Is your roof adequately attached? Make sure that your house is up to proper building codes.
  • Buy plywood to cover your windows or install shutters. Long lines surface at home supply stores just before a hurricane hits. Many times supplies run out. If hurricane winds break the windows, wind and rain can get into the house, causing great damage or loss of the house. Remember, taping windows does little if anything in protecting from damage or harm.
  • Survey your property for items, especially trees that could fall on your house. Cut the dead branches away. You may even consider cutting the tree if it poses a threat to destroy the house if toppled.
  • Have a portable radio on hand, including a NOAA weather radio to receive news and weather bulletins.
  • Check that your flashlight works properly. Have an extra one in case the first breaks.
  • Stock up on supplies like non-perishable foods, batteries, bottled water, pet food. Buy any prescription medicines that you may need.
  • Have extra propane for your grill in case the power goes out. Sometimes power is lost for many weeks when a severe hurricane hits.
  • A portable generator may also be useful in the event that power is lost.
  • A chain saw can help cut trees that have fallen on houses or blocked roads.
Planning
  • Know your elevation above sea level. Be familiar with your tides. Know how high you are above the normal high tides to get and idea of the danger from storm tides. Talk to some of the residents who know the historical high tides. Hurricanes can push high water many miles inland! If you live on the coast, waves will also add to the height of the storm tide.
  • Have an evacuation plan. Buy a detailed map and devise several escape routes in case one or more of the paths are closed for some reason.
  • Locate relatives or friends that you could stay with outside of the danger zone. Look for hotels that may accommodate you.
  • Write down phone numbers of emergency contacts, hotels, insurance companies.
  • Check that you have proper insurance coverage, including flood insurance if you live near the coast or in a flood prone area.
  • Know what you are going to do with your pets in case of evacuation. Shelters will not allow pets in many instances.
  • Take a CPR and First Aid class.
  • Find a safe room in your house. It should be a small, well enforced room on the lowest floor of your house, away from windows. If there is a flood threat it is best to locate the nearest shelter and plan to go there.
These are tasks that need to be completed well ahead of a hurricane threat. Be prepared, not caught short when a hurricane approaches.

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